Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”
Willow Smith and Far East Movement whipped across the globe this year like junior jetsetters; their infectious electro-pop sounds emerged from obscurity and hit ubiquity at the speed of light, they broke records beyond the speed of sound with a sonic boom that resonated across the planet. The free-wired high-flyers captured the world in a state of infinite liftoff; illuminating the world like it was their runway, Smith and FEM lit up the skies like flashlights over an airstrip.
Willow Smith hit the ground running, poppin’ fresh out the oven with her debut single “Whip My Hair.” Think mini-misses Maybach Music/Rick Ross meets Shirley Temple. Whether it’s black cars — beats beasting the streets, lyrical flow whipping around tight corners – or black stars – dark aerial intergalactic superlative strobes — she’s feelin’ it and couldn’t no one whip it like she did. The daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett – one half Fresh Princess, one half Wicked Wisdom – did nothing less than set it off regally this year. At the ripe old age of nine, Smith has solidified a definitive aesthetic – both sonic and visual – and scribed her Hancock on the pop ledger. While she’s had only one single, it’s not about where you are or what you have in hand: it’s about where you’re going – because when stars launch, they never land.
Far East Movement hailed in from the West Coast with a diverse Asian flavor, indicative of the contemporary Pacific scene. They were ambiguous, yet starkly so; riding into 2010 on an imaginary jet that captured the sense of perpetual revelry in a private plane that is whatever you want it to be. One hop, two skips, and a step away they landed on planet Bruno Mars, club scene crooning through a futuristic romance on “Rocketeer.” They amplified a sonic snapshot of the space-age socialite bottle poppin’ in Japan, shoppin’ in Milan, living fast, and flying high. They were a taste of Flash-in-the-Pan-American-Pop for the kiddie palette.
Smith and the Movement were splashes of something, not that it mattered much what exactly that something was; and in their momentary home atop the Pop throne the kids took it back to the simple curiosity of “What if?”… What if you could whip your problems away in a not-so-19th-century-kind-of-way… What if you could explore the world through the window of a dream jet that doesn’t necessarily exist yet? Even if you can’t, what if you could make it sound so fantastically real that for just a second the world thought they could? Why not? Fly like a G6, fresh like a Pacific Prince, and with more flash than an airstrip – get it how you live it: fly, fresh, and flashy all day. Hey, it could happen — and look at that, it just did; because when you can live fast, and die young — why not just drop death, and live fun?